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Tina Stege, climate envoy for the Marshall Islands, speaks at COP26 on November 9, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images)

GLASGOW, ScotlandWhen Tina Stege, the Marshall Islands climate envoy, walks into a negotiating room, she carries a burden that most other negotiators here do not. Her task is ensuring the survival of her low-lying island nation.

What's happening: In an interview with Axios Thursday on the sidelines of the summit, a visibly exhausted Stege talked about what separates her thinking on the COP26 climate summit from the others' approach to these talks.

  • "This is a battle where I know there's going to be loss and there's going to be damage," she told Axios. "I go in there fighting for a lifeline. So it's not a negotiation for me. It's a necessity," Stege added.

Driving the news: As the climate talks here enter their final rounds with multiple consecutive late nights, Stege is among those urging fellow members of the High Ambition Coalition (HAC), which includes the U.S. and EU, to "hold the line" in fighting for an agreement that keeps the Paris Agreement's temperature target of 1.5°C above preindustrial levels within reach.

  • Two other critical goals: doubling climate adaptation funding and addressing finance for climate change-related loss and damage.

The big picture: The HAC is an unusually broad alliance, encompassing small island states and major industrialized nations.

  • The group released a statement of its priorities for the COP26 agreement that has gained dozens of signatories, putting leaders including President Joe Biden on record.

Context: It was the Marshall Islands that helped form the High Ambition Coalition during the Paris Agreement talks, when then-foreign minister Tony deBrum helped push the 1.5-degree goal to the top of the agenda, rallying a diverse alliance around common goals.

What's next: Stege told Axios she's seeking "the balanced Glasgow package." This would contain ambitious provisions on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and boost financing for developing countries to adapt to climate impacts.

  • Such an agreement would establish a mechanism to provide money for climate change-induced damage suffered by developing countries, which did not cause most global warming to date but are suffering outsized impacts.
  • ​"We also see that ambition, on adaptation, ambition on finance, are the pieces of the puzzle that you know, are absolutely part of the whole, because you can't get to 1.5°C," Stege said.
  • "If you don't have the finance, and you can't live with 1.5°C in much of the world if you don't have the resources to adapt, right? So it really is a whole in order for people to survive," she added.
  • Stege said the Marshall Islands’ message is that its survival may be on the line, but for other countries, they're already suffering increasingly devastating harms from climate change too, in the form of extreme weather events.

The bottom line: "It felt like moving mountains to get here. It really did. And we engage in the process because we have a voice here," Stege said, taking note of her country's strict, three-week quarantine requirements.

  • "We show up and we work 150% to let people know how important this issue is, how critical it is for our survival but also for their own safety."

Go deeper: Facing climate change threat, Pacific Islanders urge world to listen

Go deeper

What's next for the Fed on climate change

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Getty Images photos: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP and Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket

The Federal Reserve is poised to increase its climate focus even as President Biden's nomination of Chairman Jerome Powell to a second term disappointed advocates of policies to tilt the economy away from fossil fuels.

Catch up fast: Biden on Monday announced Powell's nod and said he's tapping Lael Brainard — a Fed board member who's outspoken on climate — as vice chair.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.